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Suzuki Motor Corp.’s subsidiary in India turned out more than one million cars in the business year ending March 31 for the first time since it began production in 1983, the maker of minicars said Wednesday.

The fiscal 2009 production figure represents an increase of about 30 percent from a year earlier for Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which controls about half of the Indian car market.

While rivals in Japan, the United States and Europe are boosting their footholds in India, Suzuki said it will aim to maintain its competitive edge by ramping up investment in distribution and sales networks to improve the quality of its services.

Suzuki launched car production in India in December 1983 with Maruti Suzuki India and reached annual production of 50,000 units by 1985 and 500,000 units by 2004.

The unit has manufactured a total of 8.79 million units in India since the launch of production, according to the company.

“India is a market where we can expect continuing growth and Suzuki will cooperate fully with Maruti to provide high-quality and affordable vehicles,” Osamu Suzuki, the company’s president and chairman, said in a statement.

The Indian market is currently about 2 million vehicles a year, but the Suzuki chief has predicted it will expand to more than 10 million units, which would make it comparable with China, the world’s largest auto market.

Maruti said last month it will invest about ¥33 billion in new facilities to expand its annual production capacity to 1.25 million units by spring 2012 from the current 1 million.

The company will also increase its single storage facility for auto parts and finished vehicles to five facilities to accelerate the delivery date of vehicles. It will also enhance its marketing base, including showrooms.

Suzuki, the maker of the WagonR and Alto minicars, is expected to cut costs by sharing auto parts with German auto giant Volkswagen AG, with which it recently inked a capital tieup agreement.

Europe quality exec

BRUSSELS (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, spearheading efforts to regain consumer trust in the quality of Toyota vehicles, has unveiled a plan to appoint a quality control officer for cars sold in Europe.

Toyoda told employees Tuesday at the automaker’s European headquarters in Brussels that Europe “is strategically a very important battlefield” for Toyota in seeking to fend off competition from other carmakers, officials at the headquarters said.

Toyoda briefed the employees on the automaker’s responses to the high-profile safety problems, including the recent massive global recalls, and asked for their help in expanding Toyota’s presence in the European market.

The automaker has already appointed officers in charge of quality control for both the North American and Chinese markets.

CR-Z like hotcakes

Kyodo News

Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it received more than 10,000 orders for the CR-Z compact hybrid in the first month since the car hit the market, compared with the monthly sales target of 1,000.

About 90 percent of orders for the car, touted to be the world’s first hybrid sports car, were placed for the high-end model, which is priced at ¥2,498,000, with the remainder going to the basic model, which carries a ¥2,268,000 price tag.

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